June 3, 2014

North Carolina: Saying Goodbye

In less than a month, we will be in Germany. EEK! Life is definitely chaotic these days, but amidst the crazy, I can't help but think about, and get a little emotional about leaving North Carolina. Which, if you know me, you know how crazy this sounds.

But hear me out.

Eight years ago last month, I hopped in my little black Jetta, and in three days drove from Seattle to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to be with the guy I had only known (and was already engaged to) for about seven months. I quickly entered a world that I knew nothing about. Growing up in the Seattle-metro area, military life wasn't something that was a familiar aspect to me, or really anybody else I knew. Then there was the ginormous culture shock that came with moving to the South. Having lived in Washington and Colorado, moving to North Carolina was a massive, massive change. Holy cow, the humidity. And why on earth do people call shopping carts buggy's? The accents. The slow paced way of life. Did I mention the humidity? I instantly hated it.

Essentially, I have spent close to a quarter of my life here. That's a good chunk of time! But despite all of it, North Carolina has been an influential part of my life, and dare I say it grew on me (just a little). I moved here for a boy that I KNEW, the moment I met him, that I was going to marry. People thought we were crazy. CRAZY. I'm sure they still do! We moved in together after nine months of long distance relationship, we were engaged after only four months of knowing each other. I can count on one hand the number of times we spent in each others presence before we decided that YES, we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Moving here, as hard as it was to give up my life in the Pacific Northwest, my dream of moving back to Colorado, and to leave friends and family behind, has been the best decision I have ever made in my life. Moving here changed me. It changed my whole world! My now-husband deployed very shortly after I made the move out here, and despite my families wishes to head back to Seattle, I graciously declined & decided that this was my life now, so I might as well get used to it. And wow, you guys. What an eight years it has been.

Over time, I got used to the way of life around here. The mountains are some of the most beautiful, and the coast line has the whitest sand. Fayetteville has never been our most favorite place in the world, but being in North Carolina gave us the opportunity to see & do so many wonderful things. New York City. Charleston. Williamsburg. Asheville. Savannah. Charlottesville. Countless trips Florida. Visits to D.C. More tours on buses & carriages than we can count, where we experienced some of this countries finest history. Whether our vacations were healing a broken heart from a lost pregnancy, celebrating the return of a fifteen month deployment or gearing up for another one, or simply taking a weekend to get away, we saw some pretty amazing places. All because of our time here.  

Shortly before our second deployment, I started what was probably my tenth attempt at a blog over the years. I called it my My Life as an Army Wife and for the the first time, I found a purpose in writing. I shared my experiences as I navigated through the end of our first deployment, the transition of coming home & adjusting to life, our second deployment, a miscarriage and life as a very, very liberal military spouse in a very, very conservative community. Through the online community, I met some amazing like-minded military spouses, some of who have become some the best, most amazing friends I could have ever asked for. Through them I learned what it meant to be a MilSpouse, and found that I was not completely alone as I adjusted to this new community. It also introduced me to so many amazing opportunities -- interviews with BBC about presidential candidates, online debates with the Communications Director of a very well known military school in NY & their then-recent suicide rates of students, and a community that accepted me for who I was & what I believed, despite not always necessarily getting that support in real life (at the time). My online presence was a huge blessing, gracing me with the knowledge & guidance from others like me to navigate my time married to the military, and knowing that I always had other fabulous women I could lean on, whether they were here or not.

While I was meeting people online (hahaha, that always sounds so weird), I was also meeting amazing people in real life. Through my husbands unit, my jobs, and through random social interactions on my end, I have met some truly wonderful people. People that, over the years, have become our own family. Friends who understood this crazy life because they were going through it as well. They never told me, during any of our deployments, "I don't know how you do it because I never could" because more often than not, they were doing it themselves. We saw marriages & divorces. We battled infertility together, cried together when treatments didn't work out the way they were supposed to, & celebrated when babies were finally welcomed into the world. We supported each other through tough times, in marriage & in life, and we never judged. We hugged & supported through family deaths, and when family was too far away to celebrate the holidays we celebrated together with too much food & often too much wine. And lastly, we cried together when we lost friends who were gone too soon, a too often harsh reality to our little bubble of military life.

Eight years we have been here. I moved here for a man I BARELY knew. We started our lives here and have built a truly wonderful one at that. Our first home. The birth of our two boys. A rocky, rocky road at times, but a road that has made us & our marriage stronger -- and in return of all of this, some of the most amazing people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We are leaving here better than we were when we moved here & for that, I am grateful.

The ironic thing is that so many people in our lives have already gone their own way. But the best part about being in the military community is that it's never truly goodbye. Nobody knows how to keep up long distance friendships like those in the military, and while friends in my life have come and gone over the years, it's my military family that has stayed true. We have made lasting memories here -- good & bad, but mostly amazing. We could not be MORE excited about our new adventure, but we leave behind a truly wonderful experience despite all the ups & downs that have come along the way.

So to those of you who are reading this, whether we have met in person or not (and you know who you are), thank you. Thank you for eight wonderful years. Thank you for the support & love, and most importantly, the friendship. I know, speaking for myself, that I never could have made it these last eight years without all of you. Our family is who it is because of you. I have enjoyed watching ALL of us grow & change in the best possible ways. It's been an honor, and we cannot wait to see you all again. We leave here with a little bit of southern twang on our tongues & a lot of love in our hearts. 

And please. Come to Germany. Our doors are ALWAYS open. xoxo

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